The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New bread making machine, big headache

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izal13's picture
izal13

New bread making machine, big headache

Hello everyone,


I'm very new to this site so I hope someone can help.  I used to bake my own bread by hand but age and a kitchen you couldn't swing a mouse in, let alone a cat, convinced me to buy a bread making machine.  It's an Argos own brand one and the recipe booklet that came with it is dreadful.  When I registered with this site I didn't realise it was an American site so most of you may not be familiar with the brand. Let me just say it is a cheap one but it has good reviews and comes with 12 programs and 1.5 lb and 2lb loaf capacity.  There's the difficulty, I've been looking at books and websites and none of them seem to tell me what size loaf I can expect from their recipes.  The manual that came with the machine gives recipes for two basic white loaves, one says 3 cups of bread flour to 290 ml of water for a 1.5 loaf the other says 450g of flour to 250 ml of water for the same size loaf.  The first one is the only one that mentions cups which I'm totally unfamiliar with, I'm a pounds and ounces sort of person anyway.  The whole wheat recipe is even more confusing and calls for 200g bread flour, 200g whole wheat flour and 250ml water.  This was the first and only one I've tried and the mixture was so dry it stopped the machine and I had to add more water.  So, sorry to be so long winded but you could be a big help if you could give me a standard ratio of weight of flour to water to size of loaf.


My grateful thanks if you can.


Maureen


 

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

and 2 cups are the equivalent of 475 ml.


Hope this helps a bit.


Anna

izal13's picture
izal13

Hi Anna,


Thank you for your answer, can I use that cup measurement for flour as well?   It just might work, I'll weigh out 475ml in grams and see if it's close to the measurements in the pamphlet.


Thank you again for your help.


Maureen

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

measuring cup, you can see the cup marking and the ml.


gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

A cup of bread or AP flour weighs about 125-140 grams. I use 125g for my transformations from cups to grams.  As a rule, use 3  cups equivalent flour for 1.5 lb. loaves, and 4 cups for 2 lb. loaves.


60% hydration is a generally good target for bread machines. That would be 375 g. flour plus 225 g/ml liquid for 1.5 lb, and 500 g. flour plus 300 g/ml liquid for 2 lb  loaves.


After about 10 minutes total mixing and kneading, press a clean dry finger against the dough  and remove.  The dough should feel tacky, like  a post-it note.  If the dough sticks to your finger and tears, it's too wet. Add a bit of flour; not more than a tablespoon should be needed. Too  dry, add a bit of water.

izal13's picture
izal13

Thank you Gary, I'll print that off and experiment tomorrow.  If it comes together, as I suspect it will, I'll be back to the books with your measurements to make notes.


Many thanks to both of you for your answers.


Maureen

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

450g flour and 250g water makes about a 800g loaf or 1.7 pounds and is about 55% hydration, a little on the stiff side without oil or butter or something wet. 


With All Purose flour a very stiff dough would be 50% hydration (water weight divided by flour weight)  barely comes together and can tell you a lot.  100% hydration or equal weights of water and flour is a very wet dough but it can be tamed.  A dough with 55% and I find dry but if it has a whole wheat flour that absorbs more water, then this will be dry also.  Bread flour is also very absorbent.  Your observations are correct.  Flours do vary a little so always be prepared to make liquid adjustments.


A trick with the whole wheat recipe you mentioned at the beginning, soak Whole wheat in the pan with the water and salt for a day and then add the rest and continue... (including any slight water adjustments)


:)

GAPOMA's picture
GAPOMA

Mini and Gary are correct.


1 lb = 450g so a 1lb loaf will have about 450g of flour/liquid and a 1.5lb loaf will have about 700g of flour/liquid.  As Gary says above 1 cup of flour weighs about 120-140g (I use 140g in my kitchen) and 1 cup of water weighs about 240g.  So if your recipe asks you to add 3 cups of flour that's equal to about 420g (3x140g) of flour. (Knowing these numbers lets you easily switch between cups and grams and also makes it easy to calculate your hydration.)


I also agree that you might want a bit higher hydration.  Adding more water (or oil/butter) to get to about 60-65% would probably give you a better end product.

izal13's picture
izal13

Thank you all very much to your replies to my problem.  I made a 1.5 loaf in my new machine using your information and it was lovely.  Not as much fun as doing it all by hand but certainly a vast improvement on shop bought bread.


I've printed off all your answers and keep them with my recipe books so I can refer to them easily.  You've certainly made my life a lot easier.


Maureen

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I hope this isn't too late...


Most bread machines have as one of the choices a "dough" (or maybe "pizza"?) cycle, which means you put in the ingredients from your own recipe. Then the machine will mix and knead them, and then shut off. You can then take the dough out, do your own rising/shaping/warming/cooling/whatever things, then bake the finished loaf in your regular oven the regular way.


Sometimes if you really prefer to make your own bread, but are stymied simply by something like sore muscles, and don't want to change anything more than is really necessary, this way you can let the machine do just the problematic part, and continue to use your own recipes and do your own thing.


(The bread machine companies would probably have fits if they knew that I call this "the poor man's mixer".)


I've found only two constraints: i) bread machines assume a moderately well hydrated dough, and might burn up (more likely shut down with an error message about "overtemp") on a "stiff" dough, and ii) the continuous paddle motion is sometimes too fast and over-develops then destroys the gluten very quickly, in which case keep stopping and restarting the machine so it keeps going back to the "pulsed" paddle motion.

izal13's picture
izal13

Hi Chuck,


It's never too late for good information.  I'm looking forward to trying the dough only aspect of my machine but the lack of space in my kitchen is still a factor.  As long as I can make edible bread I'm happy but you, and I expect everyone on this site, know the satisfaction of burying your hands in warm flour and turning it into springy dough which becomes a lovely, golden loaf.  Plus the release of tension or anger when you're kneading that dough, happy days.


Maureen